What, really, is the Obama-Clinton game plan for Israel/Palestine?
On the face of it the package of “incentives” Secretary of State Clinton offered Prime Minister Netanyahu to persuade him to buy and sell to his coalition government a one-time-only freeze of 90 days on settlement construction in the occupied West Bank could be summed up with one “c” word – criminal.
Criminal because by excluding occupied Arab East Jerusalem from the desired freeze, the Obama administration is not only going back on its own previous demands which were in accord with international law and various UN Security Council resolutions. It is effectively endorsing Israel’s illegal settlement activities there. Simply stated the U.S. is now openly complicit in Israel’s defiance of international law.
It doesn’t matter that Netanyahu may have said to Hillary Clinton in their seven or eight-hour conversation something like:
“There’s no point in you asking for a freeze in Jerusalem. I couldn’t deliver it even if I wanted to, and I don’t.”
What any Israeli prime minister can or cannot deliver because of the pathological mindset of most Israelis is not the point. It is that if peace is to have a last chance, the Zionist (not Jewish) state must be obliged to comply with international law (not to mention a host of UN Security Council resolutions).
In my analysis there are three possible readings of the Obama-Clinton game plan.
- One is that terrified of offending the Zionist lobby too much, they are desperate and hoping that if they can develop a little momentum, something positive might happen.
- Another is that Obama believes that, with the assistance of the Arab regimes, he will be able to bribe and bully Abbas and his quisling Palestinian Authority into accepting crumbs from Zionism’s table if negotiations can be re-started. (If the PA agrees to re-start talks with Israel while it goes on colonizing Arab East Jerusalem, Obama will imagine that he has a chance of earning his Nobel peace prize. He would, of course, be wrong – I really mean deluded – to think that).
It is interesting to note that there are Israeli leaders who believe that a way must be found to “force” the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. One who has said so openly is Defense Minister Ehud Barak. He said on Army Radio that Israel has two options. “Either we reach understandings with the Americans to find a way to force the Palestinians to sit around the negotiating table, or the Palestinians and the Arab world will reach understanding with the Americans and it will be us eating frogs.” (Whatever that means).
- A third possibility – my speculation here will convince many that I have taken leave of my senses – is that Obama might have an ace up his sleeve.
Via Secretary of State Clinton, Obama told Netanyahu that if he put in place a 90-day moratorium on construction on the West Bank, he (Obama) will guarantee to continue the American presidential tradition of vetoing UN Security Council resolutions which are not to Israel’s liking. That would mean, among other things, blocking any Palestinian attempt to obtain international recognition of statehood on the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, and preventing Israel from being called to account for war crimes.
Probably Hillary Clinton did not say so to Netanyahu, but one possible implication of the American incentives package is that if Netanyahu fails to deliver a 90-day moratorium, or does and is still only playing games, the U.S. will NOT block a Palestinian attempt to obtain international recognition of statehood, and will NOT obstruct efforts to call and hold Israel to account for war crimes.
As regular readers of my contributions to informed and honest debate know, I do not believe Obama entered the White House programmed to do Zionism’s bidding. I think, as I have written, that he was naïve and inexperienced.
The question for the coming days is whether Obama has the will and courage to play his ace card if Netanyahu continues to humiliate him and demonstrate, with or without a 90-day moratorium, that he and virtually all of his leadership colleagues are not interested in peace on terms the vast majority of Palestinians and most other Arabs and Muslims everywhere could just about accept.
Alan Hart is a former ITN and BBC Panorama foreign correspondent who covered wars and conflicts wherever they were taking place in the world and specialized in the Middle East. His Latest book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, is a three-volume epic in its American edition. He blogs on www.alanhart.net and tweets on www.twitter.com/alanauthor.